Wednesday, December 16, 2009

decade of a domain

my first domain name,, is 10 years old today, so I'll take this as an excuse to post a brief history of my website, blog and associated activities. If nothing else, it shows how rapidly the online world has changed in the last 13 years.

History of Only Connect!

27.12.1996 learned HTML from a book.
30.12.1996 launched as Michael’s Home Page, then releasing a numbered issue every week. Main sections: Science; science communication; bilingual children. The site is hosted at the Oxford Centre for Molecular Sciences (
13.1.1997 issue 3 appears with title “Only Connect!” Fourth section: miscellaneous eccentric ideas. Front page essentially a list of 4 sections and 4-5 subsections each, linking to specific pages. E.g. under science communication, there were links for my first books Nanoworld and Life on the edge, and one to the science journalism list.
29.12.1997 Issue 35 has 43 active files. Updates not necessarily weekly.
9.11.1998 associate.
19.4.1999 New section about Oxford (gargoyles, local authors …)
16.12.1999 registered domain name
3.1.2000 New design: front page now has images and titles to link to eight second level pages (each branching out to multiple third-level pages!): Life on the Edge, Nanoworld, Molecular Computation, Light and Life, journalism, bilingual children, books & music, links. Later added research as ninth second-level page.
12.5.2000 google affiliate (earning a fraction of a cent each time someone used google from my page, but it never added up to a payout!).
Jan 2001 joined associate programs of, .fr,
Aut. 2001 moving out of Oxford University, site now hosted at Birkbeck crystallography (BBK).
18.10.2002 registered domain name
22.10.2002 backed up 150 html files, then redeveloped site with simplified structure and new style (using cascading style sheets). Front page now circle of eight icons (no text other than the “alt” text that appears when touching icon with mouse), rather than vertical list of icons plus text. Circle icons link to 4 books, plus pages called whoiam, journalism, research, prose and projects. The last one was soon replaced by a link to the Shakira page, developed Jan-Mar 2003. E.M.Forster quote now written across the top such that “the prose and the passion appears in the middle like a title.
Jan 2005 installed copy of site at geocities (main site still hosted at BBK).
10.4.2006 upgraded geocities to ad-free geocities-plus, pointed proseandpassion domain name at this.
Spring 2006 joined MySpace, started blogging there and on
10.5.2006 at yahoo 360.
11.5.2006 linked yahoo360 blog to geocities site, where it is mirrored in “red top version. Also joined and tried out blogger that month.
24.5.2006 moved domain to point at geocities site (stopped updating BBK site, which can still be seen here), pointed proseandpassion domain at yahoo360 blog.
10.7.2006 new front page with “book shelf” design. Slimmed down again, now only five second-level pages. ( for latest book and one for backlist, not one for every book). Title now “michael gross science writer”, with E.M.Forster quote in top right corner.
1.10.2006 all five second-level pages adapted to new structure.
28.2.2007 added family history page.
Summer 07 joined FaceBook.
2.7.2007 becomes the main blog, with the proseandpassion domain name pointed at it. Blog posts copied manually to MySpace, and mirrored automatically in FaceBook.
14.5.2008 last entry in Yahoo360 / red top blog, as this has begun to function erratically, accepting only a fraction of the entries posted. All red top entries are still online today, at
Aut.2008 developed somewhat decluttered style for “platypus” page and gradually spread this style over the pages of the other books, e.g. linking to relevant blog label instead of having dedicated (and always out-of-date) “news and events” page.
July 2009 joined twitter as @michaelgrr.
Nov. 2009 Forced to move website to yahoo web hosting and new domain following closure of geocities in October. Blog now has google page rank of 6/10 (when did that happen?) PR of website has dropped to 0 because of the move, though (it used to oscillate between 4 and 5 for the last few years).

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